How To Use And Pickle Fresh Bamboo

How To Use And Pickle Fresh Bamboo

All you want to know about bamboo:

Monsoon rains bring spikes of tender bamboo shoots. About 3-4 year old bamboos have a new shoot arising from the underneath root-system above the ground. Within a few weeks these bamboo shoots grow a few feet in length above the ground. Tender bamboo shoots within 2-3 feet in length are edible & are eaten as a vegetable.  When a young, cone-shaped new bamboo shoot just appears above the ground surface, it is chopped off from its root attachment, generally using a spade. It is consumed as a delicacy. Some of important edible species widely prevelent are Bambusa bambos, Bambusa tulda, B. polymorpha, B. balcooa, Dendrocalamus hemiltonii, D. gigentius, Melocanna baccifera, Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis.

On its exterior, bamboo shoot has several layers of tough casing of leaves, firmly wrapped around its central cream-white heart which is the edible portion of bamboo shoot. It is crunchy in texture, and has mild yet distinctive flavor. Once boiled and cured, it however, acquires almost a neutral taste.

Fresh bamboo shoots are crunchy, even after cooking. Pickled bamboos get soft with time but still remain chewy. Young, tender shoots are a seasonal delicacy in East Asian regions, & south east asian countries.

In Karnataka, bamboo shoots are used as a special dish during the monsoons (due to seasonal availability). It goes by the name kanile or 'kalale in Kannada. And are known as kirlu in Konkani.

Konkani cuisine includes various delicacies using fresh bamboo shoots. Tender bamboo shoots once are chopped off have a very limited shelf life. They start to go bad within 4-6 days. Hence, they are pickled/cured to be used throughout the year. 

Fresh tender bamboo shoots are available only for the first few months of monsoon every year. And the only way to have ample of them throughout the year is to preserve them by curing/pickling. Season’s glut is thus preserved in brine for years to come.

Fresh bamboo shoots have to be consumed only on cooking or on pickling. You can’t & shouldn’t eat them raw. Raw bamboo shoots contain (cyanogenic glycosides), natural toxins. Cooking, pickling destroys these toxins.

Even before you cook fresh bamboos you have to keep pieces of bamboo shoots soaked in water for two to three days, where the water is drained and replenished with fresh water each day to extricate and remove toxins. 

Bamboo shoots are edible when they’re young. They harden as they mature. Tender bamboo shoots are commonly sold in the local markets during the months of June to September when young bamboo shoots sprout.

Tender bamboo shoots that are collected, are defoliated, soaked in water for 2-3 days, then are boiled in water to remove its bitter taste after which it is ready for consumption, to go into a dish. The water used to cook fresh bamboo is discarded as it tastes bitter & unpleasant. These tender fresh bamboo shoots are then used in cooking.

These fresh tender bamboo shoot pieces are then used to make various dishes. Konkani cuisine has it's set of tender bamboo shoot delicacies.

Konkani delicacies using fresh bamboo shoots:

Bamboo shoots are called kirlu in Konkani. A few Konkani dishes prepared using fresh bamboo shoots:

1. Fresh bamboos in a spicy coconut based curry, called as Kirla ghashi in Konkani.

2. Fresh bamboos are paired with sprouted green gram in a coconut gravy, called as Muga gashi in Konkani.

3. Fresh bamboos are paired with hog plums in a spicy, tangy coconut curry. It is called as kirla ambade gashi in Konkani. Sometimes bitter gourd is also paired with bamboo shoots and hog plums in a sweet, spicy, tangy curry, the curry is then called kirla ambade karathe gashi in Konkani.

4. Fresh bamboo shoots are sliced and pan fried/shallow fried, these crunchy pan fried bamboos are called kirla phodi. 

5. A dry, spicy, coconut-based side dish is made out of crunchy fresh bamboo shoots, it is called as kirla chakko in Konkani.

6. Yummy bamboo pickles are also prepared using fresh bamboo shoots.

7. Tender bamboo shoots are also added along with other veggies into dishes called as alvati, gajbaj ambat etc.

Konkani delicacies using pickled bamboo shoots:

Bamboo shoots are pickled and can be stored in brine for years. Pickled bamboo shoots are removed from the brine when needed and are used in cooking.

1. Pickled bamboo shoots are shallow fried to make them crispy, called as bhajil kirlu in Konkani.

2. Pickled bamboo shoots are deep fried in a rice batter to make spicy, yummy bamboo fritters called kirla bajo.

3. Spicy, rice based savoury pancakes are made using pickled bamboo shoots. They are called as kirla sanna polo in Konkani.

4. Curries are also made using pickled bamboo shoots, they are called as kirla gashi/suyi gashi.

5. Spicy, coconut based side dishes called as kirla sukke in Konkani are made using pickled bamboo shoots.

6. The pickled bamboo shoots are pan fried to make yummy kirla phodis.

7. You can also make these curries using pickled bamboo shoots: kirla ambade gashi (pickled bamboo’s with hog plums in a spicy, tangy coconut curry) and kirla ambade karathe gashi (pickled bamboo's with hog plums, bitter gourd in a spicy, tangy, sweet, bitter coconut gravy).

Some people who taste fresh, cooked bamboo shoots for the first time may feel an unpleasant taste/smell. But proper cooking removes the unpleasant taste & smell.

Health benefits of bamboo shoots :

  • Low in calories
  • Bamboo heart moderate levels of soluble and non-soluble dietary fibre.
  • Bamboo hearts are also rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, and pantothenic acid those are essential for optimum cellular, enzymatic and metabolic functions.
  • Bamboo is good in minerals, especially manganese and copper. In addition, it has small amounts of some essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
  • Bamboo shoots have excellent levels of potassium.
  • More info.

Here's how to use fresh bamboo and how to pickle fresh bamboos for year long's use.

How to use fresh bamboo:

1. Peel the outer layers of the bamboo shoot until you get the hard inner core. 

Fresh bamboo shoot:

Outer layers of the bamboo shoot:

More outer layers of the bamboo shoot:

The inner, hard edible core of the bamboo shoot: You can't peel it further as there are no more outer layers.

2. Chop off the top pointed end as its usually hard. You can't use it in cooking so discard it.

3. Chop off the bottom layer if it's hard too. Any part of bamboo that's hard can't be used in cooking.

4. Slit the inner core of the fresh bamboo shoot into two. These are ready to be used.

4. Most important: Before you use fresh bamboo, the peeled bamboo shoots have to be soaked in fresh water for a minimum of 48 hours. Drain and change the water at least twice to remove some of the acidic toxins. This lends it a rather nice, sour tang.

Wondering what do you do with the outer layers of the bamboo shoot?

The outer thick hard layers of the bamboo shoots are to be discarded. They can't be used in cooking. The thin, soft parts of the innermost outer layers of the bamboo shoot can be used in cooking. 

Any outer layer of bamboo that are soft and are not fibrous (mature) are roughly chopped into tiny pieces. They are then given the water treatment and are used in cooking.

Add them to curries or you can roughly chop them, soak them in different sets of water for three days and use it to make yummy kirla chakko - a spicy, coconut-based side dish with fresh crunchy bamboo shoots.

The hard inner cores of bamboo which are like these are used fresh in cooking or are pickled.

The above fresh bamboo shoot pieces - the inner cores of the bamboo shoots can be used to make:

1. Kirla ghashi - a coconut based curry

2. Muga gashi - fresh bamboo’s with sprouted green grams in a coconut gravy.

3. Kirla ambade gashi - fresh bamboo’s with hog plums in a spicy, tangy coconut curry. 

4. Kirla ambade karathe gashi - fresh bamboo's with hog plums, bittergourd in a spicy, tangy, sweet, bitter coconut gravy.

5. Kirla phodi - pan shallow fried bamboo shoots. 

6. Make yummy bamboo pickles.

7. Also added these bamboo shoots along with other veggies into dishes called as alvati, gajbaj ambat etc.

Now while you chop these bamboo shoots you might end having pieces like these:

When you cut fresh bamboo horizontally, it always cuts irrespective of it being tender or mature. Whereas, mature bamboo shoots don't cut vertically unless you apply pressure. Use only those pieces that cut vertically easily while using a knife, without applying pressure. That means that part of the bamboo shoot is tender and is good for cooking fresh or can be pickled for later use. Such pieces are used in cooking the above-mentioned dishes.  

If the pieces don't cut vertically discard such pieces. That means those pieces are mature and aren't suitable for cooking - either fresh or pickled.

Newbies - a heads up!

The fresh bamboo shoots when are soaked in water, give out a foul odour. That odour disappears on cooking. For people new to fresh bamboo even the smell given out while cooking fresh bamboo can be unpleasant. But the taste is worth all the effort and unpleasantness.

Pickling bamboo shoots:

The glut from a season is preserved in brine for year long's use. When the bamboo shoots are pickled right and are stored right in air tight containers can be preserved and used for years together. The crispy bamboo shoots tend to get little soft with time when are pickled. They lose their crunch a little. 

The crunchy fresh bamboo and slightly soft pickled bamboo shoots have a distinct taste of their own. Both ways bamboo shoots taste great.

The fresh bamboo doesn't get soft even after cooking. They remain crunchy even after cooking. Freshly pickled bamboo shoots have a nice crunch to them. It's only a matter of time the pickled bamboo shoots tend to get a little soft.

How to pickle bamboo shoots:

1. The fresh bamboo shoots that are peeled and are chopped like mentioned above are added into a dry, air tight container.

2. Add in few handful of rock salt and shake to mix well. 

3. Close the containers and store them in dry areas.

4. Shake the bottles at least once every day so that the salt gets to all bamboo shoots uniformly.

5. With time bamboo shoots give out their moisture content by taking in salt. The salt dissolves in the water given out by the bamboo shoots and hence brine is formed.

6. Keep away from any moisture content. That way the pickled bamboo shoots stay good for a long time.

Take care, any moisture in the pickled bamboo shoot bottles and they tend to get spoilt.

7. Remove the pickled bamboo shoots out of the brine whenever you want to use them.

8. While using pickled bamboo shoots - If it's long since you pickled the bamboo shoots then you'll have to soak the pickled bamboo shoots in water for a few hours before you use them in cooking. As the bamboo shoots would be too salty, soaking them in water removes excess salt from them.

Pickled bamboo shoot:

These pickled bamboos are:

1. Shallow fried to make crispy kirla bajo.

2. Pickled bamboo shoots are deep fried in a rice batter to make spicy, yummy bamboo fritters.

3. Spicy, rice based savoury pancakes are made using pickled bamboo shoots. They are called kirla sanna polo in Konkani.

4. Curries are also made using pickled bamboo shoots, they are called as suyi gashi.

5. Spicy, coconut based side dishes called as kirla sukke in Konkani are made using pickled bamboo shoots.

6. The pickled bamboo shoots are pan fried to make yummy kirla phodis.

7. You can also make these curries using pickled bamboo shoots: kirla ambade gashi (pickled bamboo’s with hog plums in a spicy, tangy coconut curry) and kirla ambade karathe gashi (pickled bamboo's with hog plums, bitter gourd in a spicy, tangy, sweet, bitter coconut gravy).

Tender bamboo shoots have few outer layers:

Tags: Bamboo shoots, kirlu, pickling bamboo shoots, Konkani cuisine, Konkani recipes, Konkani food.